Moto G 5G (2023) review

Regarding affordable smartphones, it is crucial to bear in mind that they may not come equipped with the latest high-end hardware or perform on par with flagship models. Nevertheless, even considering these factors, the Moto G 5G (2023) proves to be rather disappointing. Although its limitations can be justified by its $250 price tag, the device falls short in various aspects, making it feel cumbersome and tedious to use.

The $250 price tag may entice some to make a purchase, but from my firsthand experience with the phone, you can probably find much better options than what the Moto G 5G is offering. It's not that there's nothing valuable here, but rather that the well-designed aspects of the smartphone are overshadowed by numerous frustrating elements, making it challenging to appreciate them fully.

Moto G 5G (2023) review

Moto G 5G (2023): design

The design of the Moto G 5G (2023) truly stands out as its brightest aspect. It boasts a sleek and modern appearance, reminiscent of the latest iPhones, with its sharp edges and rounded corners. The phone features a generous 6.5-inch display, which, despite having a slightly thicker bezel towards the bottom, doesn't take away much from the overall viewing experience. All the buttons are neatly placed on the right side, following the convention of many other Android devices. There's a discreet lock button and a two-toned singular button for easy volume control.

The phone's right side is dedicated solely to its SIM and microSD card slot, while the bottom edge accommodates a USB-C charging port, speakers, and a headphone jack. Although I didn't make use of the headphone jack myself, it's a pleasing inclusion that offers users versatile audio-listening choices.

Located on the back of the device, you'll find the raised camera island that accommodates the flashlight, along with two camera lenses for the Moto G 5G: a 48MP primary camera and a 2MP macro lens. Following the design trend of many other Motorola smartphones, the central area of the Moto G 5G (2023) rear panel proudly showcases the silver-engraved Motorola logo. The Moto G 5G is offered in a pair of elegant colors: Harbor Gray and Ink Blue. Both options present a solid and professional appearance, catering to those who appreciate a subtler, darker tone as well as those who prefer a more vibrant and noticeable style.

Weighing in at a mere 6.67 ounces, the phone's lightweight and well-proportioned build ensures a comfortable grip, particularly during extended phone calls and text exchanges. Its manageable weight and dimensions also make it effortlessly slip into both front and back pockets, as well as comfortably slot into handbags of varying sizes, even the smaller ones.

Although the majority of the Moto G 5G's design is quite robust, I have a particular concern regarding its lock button and its impact on the user experience. The button serves a dual purpose as a fingerprint sensor, which consistently poses a challenge for me. Due to the phone's automatic unlocking when the button is touched by my finger, I find it challenging to intentionally lock the phone, as the locking process necessitates pressing the same button. Similarly, merely picking up the phone to check the time or a notification frequently leads to unintentional unlocking, as my finger naturally gravitates towards the button.

The phone boasts a sleek design reminiscent of the latest iPhones, featuring sharp edges and rounded corners.

Occurrences like these are fairly common, resulting in brief exchanges lasting several seconds. During these moments, my intention was merely to check the time, but I ended up in a struggle with the phone as it continuously locked and unlocked itself. While the fingerprint sensor can be deactivated and replaced with Face Unlock, the latter is less secure and mainly useful for getting past the lock screen.

The issue with the lock screen and fingerprint scanner is something I've encountered with other Motorola phones as well. If this doesn't particularly bother you, then there's no need to give it excessive consideration. Nevertheless, I frequently found myself disrupted by the phone due to the extended time it took to pick up and set down when performing simple activities on the lock screen.

Moto G 5G (2023): screen

The Moto G 5G (2023) features a 6.5-inch LCD display boasting a resolution of 1600 x 720 and a pixel density of 269 pixels per inch (ppi). Despite sporting an impressive 120Hz refresh rate, particularly noteworthy for a phone in this price range, the display's description leans more towards practicality than excellence. While the screen satisfactorily accomplishes its tasks, it falls short in terms of clarity when compared to its counterparts equipped with OLED screens or higher-resolution LCD displays. It's important to note that such hardware upgrades can significantly raise the overall cost, and therefore, the compromises in the Moto G 5G's screen are understandable given its budget-friendly positioning.

The LCD screen on the Moto G 5G holds up decently but does encounter certain drawbacks. Often, images appear slightly washed-out, and blacks tend to verge into a shade of gray. Clarity and color suffer when viewing the screen from angles other than head-on, and the dark theme proves excessively bright in low-light settings. These challenges are not unique to the Moto G 5G (2023) alone; they are prevalent among devices sporting lower-cost LCD screens. Despite occasionally being overly bright at night, the Moto G 5G performs commendably under direct sunlight, offering convenience for outdoor use.

As highlighted earlier, the 120Hz refresh rate is undoubtedly impressive, especially considering that some prominent flagship models from other smartphone manufacturers have yet to attain this milestone. Regrettably, the user experience with the Moto G 5G (2023) can feel somewhat sluggish and sluggish, thereby not fully leveraging the potential of the high refresh rate. While the feature is undoubtedly valuable, its implementation is hindered by the capabilities of the hardware underlying the display—a situation that is rather disappointing.

Moto G 5G (2023): software and performance

In terms of software performance, the Moto G 5G (2023) faces challenges. Although the smartphone operates on Android 13, its overall usage feels sluggish and lacks responsiveness due to the utilization of the Snapdragon 480+ processor and 4GB of RAM. Despite the screen's high refresh rate, the phone's functionality remains notably slow.

Several applications crashed when attempting to handle multiple inputs simultaneously, which is unsurprising given the device's specifications, yet it was consistently vexing whenever it occurred. While the phone managed to handle all opened apps, the performance of each application was inconsistent.

Numerous apps cause the phone to temporarily halt for a few seconds upon selection, as the Moto G 5G readies itself. Although not all apps exhibit this behavior, crucial ones tend to suffer from delayed opening, which can be frustrating. Basic functions such as launching the camera trigger performance fluctuations, an undesirable occurrence, especially with the camera app, where swift access can determine the quality of a photo.

While app crashes and performance hiccups are bothersome, the most disappointing aspect of the Moto G 5G's performance lies in its Bluetooth connectivity.

The peak of my frustration occurred when attempting to multitask with a background-running app. Less demanding apps like Spotify posed minimal issues, but the phone struggled significantly whenever I attempted to use more processor-intensive tasks, such as running Google Maps in the background while engaging in other activities. While I didn't anticipate the Moto G 5G (2023) to be a powerhouse, its considerable struggle in managing just two tasks simultaneously was a letdown.

When it comes to utilizing the Moto G 5G for essential tasks such as using social media apps, sending text messages, streaming audio and video content, and navigating with maps, the phone performs adequately. However, it's crucial to ensure that you're focusing on one task at a time while keeping other applications closed. Otherwise, engaging in multiple activities simultaneously can severely degrade the phone's performance, rendering it incapable of smooth operation for any app.

While experiencing app crashes and performance hiccups can be bothersome, my primary disappointment with the Moto G 5G lies in its Bluetooth connectivity. When attempting to set up wireless devices, I encountered issues consistently. Regardless of the device I aimed to connect, whether it was wireless headphones or Android Auto, I had to disconnect the phone entirely between uses and re-establish the pairing with the device. Generally, Bluetooth functionality isn't as seamless as I'd expect it to be in 2023, but the Moto G 5G's performance in this aspect was exceptionally disappointing.

The frustration I encountered while attempting to set up Android Auto was so substantial that I eventually abandoned its use altogether and opted to play music through the phone's built-in speakers. Although these speakers are passable (albeit slightly lacking in richness at maximum volume), they are far from a substitute for dedicated car speakers.

Regarding software updates, the Moto G 5G (2023) is guaranteed just one major OS upgrade, transitioning from Android 13 to Android 14. After receiving this single Android update, further updates are not assured.

In terms of storage, the Moto G 5G (2023) model exclusively offers 128GB of internal storage capacity. However, this can be expanded up to a generous 1TB using a microSD card.

Moto G 5G (2023): cameras

To be direct: the cameras featured on the Moto G 5G (2023) exhibit subpar performance. The primary 48MP lens manages to produce satisfactory photos exclusively under well-lit conditions — any snapshots taken without adequate lighting result in blurry and pixelated outcomes.

Consequently, unless you find yourself within an environment illuminated by powerful bulbs, there exists a limited timeframe of merely a few hours during daylight when utilizing the Moto G 5G for photography proves effective. Even within this period, if the day is cloudy or the surroundings lack supplementary illumination, you might encounter difficulties in obtaining high-quality images.

The 8MP front-facing camera presents a challenge, demanding ample lighting for capturing pictures of acceptable quality and clarity. Despite its extensive camera software, offering features such as F stop and aperture adjustments, the underlying lenses fail to deliver satisfactory outcomes, regardless of the photographer's efforts. Even though the Moto G 5G (2023) provides a portrait mode, the resulting images lack the desired level of sharpness, making its use less appealing.

The 2MP macro camera included in several of Motorola's budget phones is a major attraction, promising sharp and intricately detailed images of small objects. While the Moto G 5G (2023) is equipped with this macro lens, it's challenging to envision numerous scenarios where its utility would be significant. The camera's optimal performance demands close proximity of just a few centimeters to the subject, a requirement that isn't practical for most instances where a close, detailed view is desired. Moreover, if the distance from the subject isn't within the ideal range, the resulting image is likely to lack focus and appear blurred.

When it comes to interesting features, the macro camera offers a brief enjoyable experience, yet it never crossed my mind to integrate it into my daily usage. This is due to its shared lighting problems with the primary lens, where issues like my hand's shadow and the phone's presence frequently become problematic.

In summary, the cameras of the Moto G 5G hardly serve as a compelling factor for individuals seeking to preserve high-quality memories through imagery. While it is capable of capturing photos, I would suggest delegating group shots to someone else for better results.

Moto G 5G (2023) review

Moto G 5G (2023): battery and charging

The Moto G 5G (2023) boasts an impressive battery that easily carries you through a full day without any concerns. With its robust 5,000mAh capacity, I found no trouble reaching the day's end with ample battery remaining, even with moderate usage. Of course, this can vary based on how intensively one uses their phone throughout the day. Speaking from personal experience, involving video watching during lunch breaks, periodic social media checks, and frequent calls and texts, I encountered no problems.

While the battery life is commendable, I'm inclined to disagree with Motorola's claims. The company suggests that the Moto G 5G's battery can span two full days, but my experience didn't align with that. It could probably extend into the second day by an hour or two without overnight charging. However, reaching a full 48 hours of usage would require an extremely light phone usage day. The battery's performance is solid, no doubt, but it falls short of Motorola's assertions.

Regrettably, the Moto G 5G (2023) doesn't offer wireless charging. This is par for the course with moderately priced phones, as wireless charging is typically a flagship feature. Nonetheless, the absence of this capability was noticeable. While using a cable to charge isn't a major inconvenience, it can become bothersome in certain scenarios.

As for charging speed, the Moto G 5G supports 15-watt charging, which seems like the minimum to expect from smartphones these days. It's not blazingly fast, but if you possess a charger that can deliver those 15W speeds, you'll achieve decent charging progress in a relatively short timeframe.

It's worth noting that the phone doesn't include a charging brick in the package, so your charging experience will rely on the type of charger you have on hand.

Moto G 5G (2023): price and availability

Priced at $250, the Moto G 5G (2023) exclusively offers 128GB of internal storage and 4GB of RAM. Presenting a choice of two colors, both variants come at an identical price point. The phone is conveniently accessible via direct purchase from Motorola or can be discovered on the shelves of numerous electronics retailers.

Moto G 5G (2023): verdict

In sum, the Moto G 5G (2023) falls short in several aspects, making it hard for me to recommend. Its performance lags, camera quality is mediocre, the screen is passable at best, and the fingerprint scanner leads to a frustrating user experience when attempting to lock the phone.

For a price of $250, there are superior options available, such as the Samsung Galaxy A14, priced at just $200. By investing an additional $50, you can opt for the Moto G Power 5G, which outperforms the Moto G 5G in every aspect by a significant margin. Another alternative is the OnePlus Nord N30 5G, which stands out at $299 and ranks among the finest phones within this price range.

Given the compromised user experience of the Moto G 5G (2023), it's challenging to discern a reason to choose it over the G Power unless your primary motive is to save $50. At $250, the Moto G 5G lacks the compelling features to validate its price. When weighed against competing phones in this price bracket, your money would be better spent elsewhere.

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